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Company Policies

Thursday, January 31, 2019

Managing Office Romances


Should I use “love contracts” in the workplace?


Office romances are always a challenge for employers.  With the current #MeToo movement, employers today are all the more concerned about addressing and managing office romances in a way so as to avoid lawsuits.  Employers may attempt to institute a policy against office romances, while others allow relationships so long as they are declared.  Our Read more . . .


Friday, November 24, 2017

Drafting Your Employee Handbook


What policies should my employee handbook include?

All Texas employers should craft an employee handbook that sets out the business’ policies, expectations of employees, procedures, and benefits.  You can use your handbook as a means of reaching out to employees to instill your company vision while providing a comprehensive list of rules that can help to maintain a productive and safe workplace.  Every employee handbook will be unique, but most employee handbooks in Texas should include the following:

  1. An introduction to your company:  Consider starting your employee handbook off with a brief introduction to your company and the handbook itself.
    Read more . . .


Tuesday, January 31, 2017

Texas Court Rules Employees on FMLA Leave Cannot Receive Unemployment Benefits


How could the Texas appellate court’s ruling impact my company policies?

Texas’s Second Court of Appeals recently examined an issue of first impression—can an employee who is taking leave under the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) obtain unemployment benefits under the Texas Labor Code?  In a favorable holding for employers, the Texas court held that no, an employee cannot simultaneously receive FMLA and unemployment benefits.  The case clarifies an important issue for employers and speaks to the importance of drafting concrete company policies set out in a comprehensive employee handbook.    



Read more . . .


Wednesday, November 23, 2016

Hundreds of Texas Business Owners Sign Letter Denouncing Exclusionary Policy


Sensitivity and diversity are two hallmarks of a well-run, properly-managed business. Across the nation, many have denounced policies drafted to exclude certain groups, most notably the recent outcry over transgender bathroom policies. Earlier this year, lawmakers in North Carolina enacted legislation prohibiting transgender individuals from using lavatory facilities congruent with their self-identified gender. In response, many businesses, entertainers and sporting events criticized the policy and vowed to take their talents elsewhere. Now, a similar measure is meandering through the Texas General Assembly, and hundreds of Texas businesses have likewise condemned the policy as exclusionary and unnecessary.


Read more . . .


Wednesday, February 24, 2016

Reasons for Employee Handbooks

According to the Small Business Administration, what topics should employee handbooks cover?

While it is not legally required that every small business have an employee handbook, it is highly recommended for companies with more than a few employees. Employee handbooks work to standardize expectations for both employers and employees, and offer the company legal protection. Since employee handbooks set forth company policies clearly in black and white, they can help to keep friction and disputes to a minimum.

What Your Employee Handbook Should Cover

So that everyone understands the rules of the road from the first day of employment, employee handbooks typically cover standards that must be met by both employees and employers, including:

  • Non-disclosure agreements (NDAs) and statements concerning conflict of interest
  • Anti-discrimination policies: compliance with equal opportunity laws, including the Americans with Disabilities Act; information about discrimination and harassment
  • Compensation information: wages, overtime, performance reviews, raises, time-keeping records, breaks, bonuses and workers' compensation
  • Employee Benefits: including health insurance, retirement plans, wellness programs
  • Work schedules: work hours, attendance, punctuality, flexible hours and telecommuting
  • Leave Policies: vacation, sick leave, holiday, bereavement, family medical leave, jury duty, military leave, leave for voting and court cases
  • Conduct standards: code of dress, legal obligations, ethical behavior (avoiding harassment), privacy rules, particularly in activities under government regulation

In addition, employee handbooks should provide employees with an overview of the business and its general policies, including:

  • Hiring practices:  job postings and employment eligibility
  • Referrals, probationary periods, transfers, relocations, union information
  • Resignation and termination procedures

Safety and Security

As the owner of the company, you are responsible for creating a safe and secure workplace for your employees, meaning the premises should comply with Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) laws. Your employee handbook, therefore, should state clearly that all accidents, injuries, safety hazards and safety suggestions should be promptly reported to management.

In addition, the employee handbook should make abundantly clear that employees also have a responsibility to maintain a safe and secure work environment -- keeping pathways unobstructed, turning off appliances when not in use, and being committed to securing electronic information on their computers.

If you are starting up a new business or taking over an established one, you should consult with a firm of skilled and experienced business attorneys to make sure that you proceed in a legal, ethical, and efficient manner.


Monday, August 31, 2015

Congress Introduces Bill to Ban Non-Compete Clauses Against Low-Wage Workers

Can my employer prevent me from changing jobs to work with a competitor?

Non-compete clauses are an extremely common component to the hiring process, and are used to prevent employees from leaving one company to work at a competitor, presumably taking clientele along in the process. 

In general, a non-compete agreement is enforceable if it is reasonable in scope. In Texas, this means that the agreement must not cover an unreasonably large geographic area (i.e., the entire state of Texas) or last for an unreasonably lengthy amount of time (i.e., ten years). Reasonableness will depend on the nature of the industry, the type of work performed, and the employee’s factual ability to cause financial harm to the first employer. 

However, there is a point where a non-compete clause can go too far, and may actually cross the line into an unlawful restraint on trade. Moreover, as several members of Congress have pointed out, businesses have begun restraining low-wage workers with non-compete agreements as well, creating additional hardship for a population already facing financial struggles. 

In June, 2015, several U.S. Senators introduced the Mobility and Opportunity for Vulnerable Employees Act. This Act, if approved, would prevent employers from attempting to restrain former employees from working for competitors if the workers earn less than $15.00 per hour, less than $31,200 annually, or the minimum wage in the worker’s municipality. 

In the words of Senator Chris Murphy (D-Conn.), non-compete agreements hidden in low-wage worker contracts deliberately trap these workers in low-paying jobs – and that’s unacceptable….I worked hard on this bill because I believe that if you’re making less than $15 an hour, the government has a moral duty to stop companies from exploiting your hard work by preventing you from using your skills and experience to work your way up.”

Currently, a number of low-wage food service companies embed non-compete agreements in employment contracts, preventing counter-service workers from procuring a job at a competitor. 

If you have questions about non-compete agreements, or would like to discuss the proper way to implement this strategy into your hiring procedures, please contact the Kumar Law Firm, serving Austin, Texas and surrounding areas today at 512.960.3808.


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